Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Less than 50 pages to the end of À la recherche du temps perdu

I'm looking forward to looking back on this immense, amazing work.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Art is the Most Real of All Things


September 4, 2011

From Marcel Proust, the Prisoner, Carol Clark trans., p. 346

September sun slows earth’s pace. Figs swell
with more deliberate sweetness. The omnipresent
weeds go to seed. The air cools enough
to ripen raspberries, but afternoon sun
is lavished on the okra pods. My human
pace picks up. In a week I’ll be teaching
again. I had a somnolent summer writing
my novel, harvesting and preserving food
for winter needs. Darkness draws in
at both ends of the day. Some plants
flourish and some die. Mysteries abound.
There are so many reasons that exist and
remain unfathomed, and in nothing so
much as in our human connections. It
is easy to feel neglected, forgotten, alone,
but we never are. Our life continues all
around us, its strands more far-reaching
than we easily imagine. A woman who
took photographs of me and my hens
stops by on an impulse to buy eggs.
A spider lily I planted years ago springs
up in a neglected flower bed in its own
time, even though I’d forgotten to clear
space for it. The cardinal joins me when
I’m picking figs, the hens raucous below
me, he, alert to the full ripe ones as
much as I. I live, I flourish, I write
the story I have to tell, my very own,
the only one that matters now in my life,
but, when I’m gone, its fruit will be
well-distributed and rise unbidden in
other souls far from where I live now,
but already magnetized and waiting
for whatever wisdom I can hear and speak
as my pen moves across the page.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Paris Metro

In “The Prisoner”, page 199, Charlus brags about Morel’s attractiveness to women: ‘The most famous whores can’t keep their eyes off him. He stands out everywhere,... even in the metro.’ I was surprised to hear that the metro existed then. And I have to admit, I wondered if this was another example of Proust taking liberties with time. But the Paris metro indeed opened in 1900.

(From Wikipedia)
Evidence of plans to build the métropolitain (or the Nécropolitain, as it was dubbed by one wit) existed as early as 1845. The first line opened without ceremony on 19 July 1900, during the World Fair (Exposition Universelle). The system expanded quickly until the First World War and the core was complete by the 1920s. Extensions into suburbs (together with Line 11) were built in the 1930s. Line 1, as it is still called, ran from Porte de Vincennes to Porte Maillot; it has since been extended — from Château de Vincennes to La Défense. While the engineer Fulgence Bienvenüe was in charge of construction, architect Hector Guimard is credited for the charming and elaborately sculpted Art Nouveau entrances. Following the construction of the Eiffel Tower by eleven years, this elegant transportation system stole the show, and remains to this day a model of efficient public transportation.

Wooden Métro cars placed
in service July, 1900
© Guillaume Potier